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How impressed were you by the outcome of the 18th UN Climate Change Conference (COP18) in Doha last week?
In general, the expectations were low, and they were confirmed during the event. The day before COP18 was due to end, the international media were accepting the fact that they would have nothing to report about, comparing the Doha summit to COP15 in Copenhagen three years ago.
This time, minimal results were pushed through in a last-day marathon. The Kyoto Protocol was extended to 2020, and a new global agreement must be completed by 2015. Developing countries received assurances of compensation by rich countries for the ‘loss and damage’ that climate change has caused so far.
Let’s put it all into perspective: what is climate change about?
Current climate models suggest that we will only be able to limit the global temperature rise by 2 °C in this century if the industrial nations drastically reduce their CO2 emissions immediately. That is simply not happening.
Some nations have profited from the extension of the Kyoto protocol by liberating themselves from any emission target duties. Countries like the USA, Canada, Russia, the Ukraine and Japan can now practically emit all they want. China, officially the world’s biggest polluter, is still listed as a developing country and therefore has no binding targets.
So, who’s left? Only Australia, the EU and other European countries have agreed to binding targets, but they only represent about 12% of worldwide emissions. Something is going seriously wrong here.
Too many different positions clashing, too many divergent interests affecting mankind’s most important challenge: the preservation of the planet. The Doha Conference has proven that we can only rely on ourselves.
There are many things that we, individually, can do to reduce our emissions. You know the classic one: don’t use your car, use public transport. But nothing is going to make a difference as quickly as innovation. By investing in new technology we can contribute to a healthier environment. In one of my earlier blog posts, “Make it warm, make it right”, I already outlined the impact of proper building insulation on energy efficiency. If we, as consumers, spend a little bit of extra money on the latest line of wall-insulating products, there can be positive long-lasting effects on the environment.
Energy efficiency in the building sector was actually part of the agenda in Doha. The chemical industry is aware of its potential of providing solutions to reduce energy consumption and decarbonize energy production. For the first time, the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) was invited to a COP as observer. It presented a roadmap which suggested that by combining building efficiency with lower-carbon fuels, a 41% reduction in energy use and a 70% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 would be feasible – see video below.
The chemical industry made itself heard at COP18, and now it’s up to all of us to act. We can’t afford to wait until COP19 next year in Warsaw to make any progress. The term ‘climate change’ doesn’t have the same impact on people’s minds as it did five years ago. Let’s make sure it returns to our inner agenda.